The History of Greely
RICHARD STANLEY: BUYING THE FARM
From what we know of the Stanley family, they earned their living as farmers and tavern keepers while in Ireland, and upon arriving in-province in the early 1830’s, John Robert Stanley (brother of Leonard) had been the keeper of the Carleton Hotel of Bytown in 1834, (south side of Wellington Street between Bank and Kent Streets), until it burned.
But Leonard and Jane had other plans for their growing family and thus chose to purchase property in Osgoode Township, lot 8 of concession 4, (circa 1842). No doubt arriving by way of the road that passed by Rossiter’s Tavern, little could they have guessed that two of their sons would one day own that very piece of land and eventually establish a dynasty which would be remembered 158 years later? But for the present, they busied themselves with the necessities of life in the township and, as is right to do, the children each in their own time, married and established new families. Their legacy and line still enriches Osgoode today.
Despite the potential for things to go very wrong, Thomas and Richard Stanley jointly bought the north and south halves of lot 5 respectively, and began paying taxes on the property in 1863. Oddly, the previously cited map of 1863 identifies the hotel as the “E. SMITH HOTEL” an anomaly which I cannot explain except to suggest that the transaction was completed while the map was being printed thus it was too late to change the name on the map. Whatever the cause of this irregularity, the ownership of the land and hotel was irrefutably transferred to the Stanley brothers by the spring of 1863 and soon after, the hotel officially bore their name. In short order, the community became known as “STANLEY’S CORNERS “. (Source: Osgoode Township Historical Society, Newsletter: 1988 #1).
Through determination and hard work it soon became evident that this pair of business men had clear and definite plans for the place. They were so sure they could make it profitable that Richard ventured to ask Miss FRANCIS HEADLEY (Var. Spelling) to be his bride and on the 1st of July 1863, they became one, and made their home on lot 5. Two years later Thomas proposed to Miss ELIZA JANE MELVIN and they pledged their troth on the 17th of Aug 1865. For the next two years the brothers continued to pour their energies into enriching the farm and building the business until 1867 when they parted ways, by all appearances amicably. Thomas sold his half of the investment to his brother and bought land in Russell thus putting Richard in the position of sole owner of lot 5.
As there were only two housing options available in the early years of their tenure and one could assume the brothers chose to live separately when Richard married, it would be safe to venture that, in all likelihood, Richard carried Francis over the threshold of the old “Smith house” on their wedding day. However, this house was soon vacated in favour of a newly built home immediately across from the hotel (1365 Meadow Drive). (See: END NOTES)
Hard working and prudent, Richard slowly began the task of rebuilding the business, as well as starting a family. Among his entrepreneurial tasks he needed to honour the provisos of the “RULES AND REGULATIONS OF INNKEEPERS” which stipulated that he was required to provide “palatable victuals to travelers and others”, thus he needed to manage the farm with excellence. In 1851 Samuel Rossiter reported that he had 60 acres under cultivation, 27 in pasture and 33 in crops which included wheat, barley, oats, Indian corn, and one acre each of potatoes and turnips. The farm produced 50 pounds of butter, 1800 pounds of both pork and beef as well as the contributions of other animals. Richard, twelve years later, would have to match the output of the Rossiter farm, and exceed it to succeed.
The regulations also stipulated that he provide “a good and convenient yard, stable and a sufficient quantity of hay and grain to answer the requisitions of travelers and others”. This he seems to have done splendidly. Directly north of the hotel, the stables and barns became the centre where horses were still kept “for hire or for gain”. (Source: Osgoode Historical Society Newsletters: some claim this to be the motto from the Rossiter’s (1986, #4) and some the Stanley’s, as noted in the essay, History of the Greely Cheese Shop). Those of a certain age in the community recount memories of stories of these structures: large, close to the road, and always filled with horses.
And finally, the regulations required that a “country (inn have) three rooms and three good beds over and above those for the use of the family”, a requirement which would imply that the rental rooms be kept separate for the use of travelers. This provision was probably easiest to honour if Thomas lived at the inn while he was a bachelor as he would require the least amount of personal space and have the greatest freedom of time to keep the rooms in an acceptable condition.
As for Francis, throughout this time she is thought to have contributed where she could, but she was largely preoccupied with the task of bearing children. Jane Ann was the first-born in 1865, followed by ten others.
At some time in the early 1870’s Richard either saw the need to bring in help on the farm, or was persuaded to offer a helping hand to his struggling kinsmen. Whichever the reason, the effect is recorded in the 1877 tax records where we find the names of Thomas, JAMES W. and WILLIAM R. Stanley in connection with the estate. (Researchers note: many of the tax ledgers for this time are missing, thus it is entirely possible that they arrived at an earlier date)
JAMES W. STANLEY was older by five years, deeply in debt and “laboring out” to make ends meet, (Source: Pioneer Families of Osgoode Twp Vol. XVII, Bruce Elliott, pg.19) a fact borne out by the few remaining tax records for this time. In both 1879 and 1880 James is assessed as a farmer living on his brother’s acreage, but with none of his own. Penniless and landless, the family chronicles tell that he lost his own farm in 1881 and turned to running a hotel in Gloucester to earn his living. In years to come Mr. J.W. Flavelle would state that one of the things in a man’s life that “stand as stone, is kindness in another’s troubles”: this is a good description of the legacy of kindness left by Richard Stanley in reference to his brother’s plight.
WILLIAM R STANLEY was Richard’s nephew and a blacksmith. It is assumed that he came to the property to practice his trade, perhaps at the behest of Richard, or perhaps by his own decision as he searched for the perfect location for his shop. Regardless of the motivation to locate in Stanley’s Corners, it is indisputable that such an addition to the community would benefit everyone, not the least being the hotel.
And so, we watch as Richard and Francis build their empire on hard work, practicality, intuition and wisdom. But there was a problem: like a work-weary patient in need of a heart transplant, Osgoode desperately needed a new road. Variously referred to as “miserable”, “impassable” or “wretched”, the old road so near and dear to the hearts of those in the McDonell settlement of the early years, was now woefully inadequate. After much discussion, the only viable option was to build a new road, macadamized for durability, a decision reached with more than a little controversy.
THOMAS RYAN: BLACKSMITH
The story of Thomas and Elizabeth RYAN is one defined by hard work and dreams of a brighter future, interrupted by one momentous and tragic event. Thomas, born Sept 1852, was only 27 years of age when he came to the community. While living and working in Stanley’s Corners, he met and married Elizabeth (Lizzie) Shanaghan, (var. spelling), who was five years his junior, on November 28, 1882, only one week before Richard Stanley died (December 5, 1882). In time she bore him three children, Thomas (Jr.), Michael, and Mary Ann (Babe). Thomas, in the manner of the time, worked his trade at the forge in the warm months but in the winter he found work in the lumber camps. Although the timber trade was beginning to wane, the camps still offered wages a man could not ignore. Thus it was that on the first of November, 1898 he was in camp and, being a gracious man, offered to escort the visiting priest to the next camp. In the process of scaling a fence the unthinkable happened: his rifle discharged and he was killed. This tragic event shaped all others to follow. Not only did Elizabeth find herself a widow and single mother, but from the tax records we come to the conclusion that they were planning to leave the community, probably as soon as Thomas returned from the camps that spring. To substantiate this theory I cite three references, two from the tax rolls and the last from the Ryan family history.
First, the tax records for that year are written in a way we have seen before. Ten years earlier we interpreted the transfer of the shop from Mr. Hande to Mr. Ryan. This year, Daniel GRADY’s (O’GRADY’s) name is written in the tax rolls immediately below Thomas Ryan’s entry and the following year Mr. O’Grady is listed as the owner and blacksmith on the land. Clearly, the family had sold the business before the spring assessment.
Next, we note that the Ryan’s were paying taxes on only 3⁄4 of an acre, (or more accurately, 3⁄4 of the land). It would appear they severed the most southerly 1⁄4 of their property, which would include the house, and sold it to MRS. SARAH FAGAN. Without more information about Mrs. Fagan, we are left to guess at the circumstances surrounding this transfer of ownership, (see END NOTES) but for here it is sufficient to note that the property was sold, presumably raising additional funds.
Finally, from the Ryan family history, we know the Ryan’s were saving money for a big purchase because they were one of three families who leased the Greely tollgate on the new macadam road. Despite having no definitive proof of the date for this enterprise, common sense would insist that it must have been between Mary-Anne’s birth and her father’s death in 1898. One of the requirements of the lease was that the operator live full-time in the diminutive tollhouse. Decedents of the family have told me that Mrs. Ryan chose to take their youngest to live with her during the year of the lease, leaving the boys under the care of their father (Thomas Jr. would have been 10 years old at the time) a short distance away. We do not have records of the monetary return which could be expected from this venture, but it must have been considerable to warrant such profound upheaval within the family.
Thus, at the end of this study we are left with the unavoidable conclusion that the Ryan’s were making every effort, through every enterprise at their disposal, to build up enough capital to relocate out of Stanley’s Corners but, beyond this certainty, we will probably never know the plans they had for the future. Instead, 1899 found Elizabeth RYAN widowed and living on the south half of lot 2 of the concession. The property, which she was able to purchase in full, carried a value of $1,900.00. She never remarried.
As a last word on the Ryan’s story, it has recently come to light that the tollhouse which accompanied the tollgate, has survived. Once used as a play house for little girls, time has not been kind to the modest accommodation, but the tin lined stove-pipe hole in the side of the house and the tiny pantry built into the wall near where the stove once stood, are still visible. No tollgates have survived.
Having worked the Stanley’s Corners forge for two years, Daniel apparently saw fit to supplement his income with other employment. In the 1901 census he referred to himself as an “Mzg Agent” (a term we no longer understand) and we are introduced to JOE LESLIE, a 23 year old blacksmith (and one of the keepers of the Greely tollgate) who boarded with the family from 1901 until 1906. The article: GREELY: A BRIEF GLIMPSE INTO THE PAST (Osgoode Historical Society newsletter, 1987, #1) tells us that Daniel also worked as a salesman for Derry Machinery selling such items as washing machines and stoves and at one time sold funeral monuments, a possible example of which can be seen on the front lawn of Mrs. Stanley’s home in an archival photo (Source: Osgoode Museum files) circa 1903. Nevertheless, the business directory of 1904 indicates that Mr. O’Grady was still considered to be the blacksmith for Greely. Evidently, he still maintained the forge and kept his skills sharp while employing Mr. Leslie at the shop. According to available records, Daniel and Elizabeth did not have children; however, in 1911 they were raising a niece, one year old EDNA.
The shop was eventually sold to two of the Stanley men, ALLEN and DAVID, then to FRANK RANDALL, and his son BOB RANDALL who was the last blacksmith. (Researchers note: VICTOR BEDORE is reputed to have owned it at one time but I have been unable to identify this man or verify this information). The shop is no longer standing.
DEATH OF A PATRIARCH
Three years after the Ryan’s bought the blacksmith shop, the patriarch of Stanley’s Corners died. Perched atop the hill overlooking All Saints Anglican Church and of course, his beloved Stanley’s Corners, Richard Stanley’s headstone bears witness to his untimely death on December 5th of 1882 (at 45 years of age).
Not only did he leave a prosperous business and a good, well managed farm; he also left Francis with nine children (three under 5 years of age) and a grieving heart. Her pain is made so clear in the engraving commissioned for his headstone which appears to read:”No more we’ll mourn the absent friend/ But lift our earnest prayer/ And daily every effort bend/ To rise and join him there”. But, to understand the full scope of her sorrow, we note the engraving on an adjacent panel of the headstone which tells of the death of two babies of whom this engraving is the only concrete evidence they ever existed.
The first to die was baby “RICHARD L. STANLEY died at 2 (or 3) months &?, ? March 1880” followed by baby SARAH J. STANLEY who died a scant 5 months after her father (1 May, 1883) at 2 years and 2 months of age, (making her date of birth March of 1881).
Although worn and difficult to read, the engraving commissioned for the children seems to read:”Two little flowers of love/-?-to blossom but to die/ Transplanted now above/ To bloom with God on High”. (Confirming Source: ONTARIO: CANADIAN HEADSTONES.COM /All Saints Anglican, Greely + Cemetery – Carleton (Ottawa) County)(see END NOTES)
Francis Stanley did not remarry and continued to run the hotel with the intelligence and proficiency of an experienced business woman.
As for the north half of the property (100 acres), the records for 1891 (almost all of the records for this decade are missing as well) indicate that the farm was summarily purchased by JOHN STANLEY and SARAH (LONEY) at some point. John seems to have been an excellent farmer as the property held its value well into the 20th century. In 1899, 61 year old John began shifting some of the responsibility of the business onto his sons, listing them on the tax roll for that year although not imposing taxation on CHARLES (24) AND WILLIAM (22). The boys worked with their father until 1904.
Records for 1905 indicate that WILLIAM became the sole guardian of the 100 acres on the north half of lot 5.
THOMAS O’CONNOR: 1365 MEADOW DRIVE
One of these small business owners was THOMAS O’CONNOR and his boys, 19 year old John and 15 year old James. We surmise this because the 1891 tax rolls indicate that their financial situation was much better than one would suppose considering he earned his bread-and-butter as the postmaster (March 1890)and probably the hotel keeper as well, to subsidize the miserly income he earned from the post office.
It is assumed that he lived in the Stanley house across from the hotel, farming on the ubiquitous single acre, (it seems that actually measuring each parcel of land was considered an excessive exercise, thus all small lots were routinely referred to as one acre)and all the while building a small business on the property. The nature of the business is lost to us today, but the tax assessment on the property is so excessive at $700.00 (today: $17,252.08), a figure which is more than twice the assessed value of the blacksmith shop ($250.00 or $6,161.46 in today’s funds), that we must assume that it was a very successful enterprise. In fact, it was so successful that Mr. O’Connor was able to resign from his postal duties on the 9th of April 1894, (leaving the position open for Mrs. Stanley: 1 October 1894), and remain living and working on the property for another four years. Eventually he sold the whole to Mr. THOMAS RALPH, the newly hired hotel keeper.
THOMAS W. RALPH
First seen in Greely in 1898, Mr. THOMAS RALPH (44) was the husband of MARY ANN STACKPOLE and father of one daughter, “MAY” Mary Jane Mabel, born 16 June 1883. Our information about this couple is thin, but we do know that Thomas’ elder brother Patrick married another Stackpole girl, Margaret, which must have pleased their parents, Walter and Bridget (Brennan). The Ralph family records show that the family lived on lot 25/ concession 5 when Mary Jane was born and that they supported the GLOUCESTER UNION SCHOOL (Source: tax records for 1900). Because the tax records are incomplete for this decade, we do not know when they arrived in Greely. Sadly, Mary Ann died at 47 years of age in 1910. Thomas left in 1911.
ROBERT PINK: THE CHEESE FACTORY
According to Michael DALEY, noted local historian of Osgoode Township, Mr. SYLVESTER McEVOY sold 1⁄4 acre of lot 19/con.3 (Enniskerry), on March 16, 1893 to Mr. ROBERT PINK for the establishment of a cheese factory. Known for many years as the LINDSEY CHEESE FACTORY (owned by Mrs. LORNE LINDSAY), it served the community until 1940. (Source: Osgoode Historical Society Newsletter, 1981 #4; 1988 #1).
Two years later, Mr. Robert Pink appears for the first and only time in the tax records for Greely, apparently living immediately south of the Dunlop farm but paying taxes on 1⁄4 acre of both the north half of lot 19 /con. 3 (Enniskerry), and the south half of lot 5, part of the Stanley estate.
Not only is it curious that the Enniskerry and Greely properties were assessed jointly, but equally odd is the implication that both sites were host to a cheese factory. The Enniskerry cheese factory was fully functioning by this time but there is no evidence that the same was true of Greely for many years to come. Clearly there must have been complications setting up the Greely site.
To attempt to answer some of the questions about the cheese factory we turn to two documents. The 1911 census tells us that a young cheese maker, Mr. JAMES ROGERS (28), boarded in the home of Miss HARRIET PYPER. We do not know when Mr. Rogers arrived, but his tenancy in the village a full 16 years after Mr. Pink paid the taxes on land assumed to be meant for a cheese factory implies that there was indeed cheese to be made in 1911, but we have no further information about the man or the suggested factory.
The second document: GREELY: A GLIMPSE INTO THE PAST (Osgoode Historical Society Newsletter 1986, #4) offers a somewhat different picture of the circumstances surrounding the Greely cheese factory. According to this source we are told that “Mr. Rogers built the factory in 1915”, four years after taking up residence in the community. In addition, this article states that the factory was not built on lot 5, as per the tax records of 1895, but on property owned by the Dunlop family (lot 6).
Although incongruous on the surface, it is entirely possible that all three scenarios are correct. There is no reason to doubt that Mr. Pink did indeed purchase land on the Stanley estate to establish a cheese factory, or that the business did produce cheese at the hand of Mr. Rogers. Equally, there is no reason to doubt that Mr. Rogers did indeed build, or re-build the cheese factory in 1915. In fact, it would be quite reasonable to assume that the factory had indeed been built on lot 5, moved to lot 6, and then repositioned in its present location on lot 5 again. This argument is given credibility when we learn about the agreement between the factory owners and the Dunlop family which stipulated that the land was provided as a gift but, should the business fail for any reason; the land would revert back to the Dunlop estate. As was so often the case, we know the business did falter and the outcome was predictable. Upon failure, the operation was sold and the factory was moved off of the Dunlop property to a site across Parkway Road, back to lot 5. In due time, the building became the office of ROSS REAL ESTATE on the north-west corner of Parkway Road and Bank Street (7163 Parkway road). Although rehabilitated to become offices and private apartments, it still bears the striking and unmistakable profile of an early 20th century cheese factory.
For those curious about the ubiquitous cheese factories of old Ontario, there are many files and publications available at the Osgoode Museum.
WILLIAM ALBERT STANLEY
Not until 1898 did Francis step aside, giving control of the property to her son, WILLIAM ALBERT. At age 22, he seems to have moved confidently into his mother’s footsteps and by all appearances was as good a manager as she had been, a judgment based on his handling of the property taxes. In that year we read that his property had been assessed at $2,100.00 (today: $55,867.78) with a tax bill of $17.43, (today: $463.70) which was “paid same day.”
SAMUEL COHEN: GENERAL MERCHANT: 1369 Meadow Drive
One of the most interesting and in some ways, controversial members of the community was Mr. SAMUEL COHEN. He is interesting because he seems to have arrived out of nowhere in 1899, and was a man of profoundly different origins from those of his neighbours. He was hard working and apparently successful as a merchant for almost a decade and then departed the same way he came, seemingly without a trace.
He is controversial because he seems to be a forgotten figure in the story of Greely, and there are those who doubted his existence until these files came to light. However, the 1904 FARMERS AND BUSINESS DIRECTORY FOR THE COUNTIES OF CARLETON, DUNDAS, GLENGARRY, GRENVILLE, LANARK, LEEDS, PRESCOTT, RUSSELL, STORMONT lists “Greeley” as a community with a population of 25 including JAMES ABRAHAM, carpenter (Researchers note: while Mr. Abraham (var. spelling) is listed as a tradesman of Greely he seems to have lived in Gloucester) Samuel COHEN running the general store, Daniel O’GRADY as the blacksmith, and Mrs. F. STANLEY as postmistress, thus irrefutably placing the Cohen family in the community at this time as general merchants. The article: THE HISTORY OF THE GREELY CHEESE SHOP suggests that his store was established across the road from the hotel.
By 1908 the Cohen family and the general store are no longer here. While we have no documents to testify as to why they left, it would not be surprising to find that they simply could not compete with the mail-order business of Toronto’s EATON’S catalogue sales. Sadly it was a common thing to find that community general stores and “smaller merchants” failed when competing for customers with the Eaton’s Catalogue, (first introduced in 1884). “Dad looked at the Eaton’s catalogue and he said it would be the death of him. It had everything in it.” is a statement made by the child of a store keeper and quoted in Barry Broadfoot’s oral history, The Pioneer Years 1895-1914 (Source: Rod McQueen, THE EATONS, The Rise and Fall of Canada’s Royal Family, pg. 13). Mr. McQueen goes on to reveal the ruthless drive of the Eaton’s company to outsell all competitors: “Eaton’s showed little sympathy” for the little man, stating that now there was “No need to patronize a merchant tailor at any time...(and)The way we sell watches and jewellery is just right for you but pretty tough on the jewelers.” No doubt,Cohen’s general store suffered and died under this unrelenting pressure.
As so often happens, we have no date of departure for the Cohen family due to missing tax records, however, it would appear that the DAWSON’s occupied their home in 1908 (the house is still known as the Dawson house by those of a certain age). The 1911 census indicates that Mr. John DAWSON with his wife Maria and three sons, George, Walter and young Harold, nearly twenty years younger than his brother George, were farmers.
MRS SARAH FAGAN: 1400 Meadow Drive
We first met Mrs. Sarah FAGAN in 1898 in relation to Ryan’s blacksmith shop, where it appears that she purchased the part of their property which probably included the old Smith house. Now, in 1900 we find her name listed in the tax records for the second and last time, again in relation to a small piece of property south of the blacksmith shop.
Although nothing is known of this lady, it can be argued that she was a probably a widow by virtue of the manner in which her name is recorded (she does not use her husband’s name) and, because she is assessed at the business rate of $250.00 (today: $6,650.93) she probably ran a business out of the house. The business lasted only one year, but once again, there is no record of the nature of the enterprise.
JAMES PYPER : 1400 Meadow Drive
Although we have no details about the transaction, the following year JAMES PYPER seems to own the Fagan property and by all appearances lived there with his sisters, ARABELLA, older by seven years and HARRIETT, younger by ten years. Curiously referring to himself as a “capitalist” in the 1901 census, James was to live in the house only five years, dying on 16 June, 1906 at the age of 67 years, predeceased by Arabella who lived only 8 months in the house (she died 14Nov. 1901 at 70 years of age).
Harriet, as the youngest, became the sole occupant of the house at the death of her siblings and consequently rented their rooms to boarders. In the 1911 census we discover that Ms. Pyper lived with Miss ELLEN ROLSTON, an 18 year old school teacher, and Mr. James Rogers (28), a cheese maker. Harriet Pyper died on 2 March 1918 at 68 years of age.
MARY DUNLOP: 1448 MEADOW DRIVE (LOT 6)
MARY JANE DUNLOP (Fanning), wife of JAMES ROBERT DUNLOP, took over the duties of postmistress from Mrs. Stanley on July 30, 1903 and according to her great-grandson, William, ...”had a little counter in the Greely general store...” (Source: Bytown or Bust- Some early post offices and Postmasters in Carleton County...) She continued in this role until the post office was closed on 24 October,, 1914. During her time as postmistress the post office was shifted to the Dunlop home and by 1910 the house was host to the local telephone switchboard as well.
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